The only way to conquer stage fright is to get up on stage and play. Every time you play another show, it gets better and better. Taylor Swift
Change in breathing, feeling the warm blood rush to the face, knees trembling, sweaty palms, and struggling to say something, anything but your own voice betrays you, and your voice cracks. Ever experienced any of these feelings before? If no, congratulations on having a confidence level of 95% or more.
These days stage fright is almost synonymous with camera fear. With the shift from in-class presentations to virtual presentations, from discussions in office meeting rooms to Zoom meetings, everything includes a camera and speaking to a crowd, whether it is just classmates or office colleagues. The thing that makes stage fright and camera fear worst is that you don’t know who your audience might be, and once it is recorded there is no knowing of where it might end up.
Most people have had incidents of stage fright and camera fear at some point in their life. Some people grow out of it while for some it is always the same frightening experience over and over again. Even the confident ones and the professionals too have stage fright and anxieties. Zayn Malik, a former member of the famous boy band One Direction confessed during his interviews that even though he is a professional performer, he always gets anxious before going to the stage. So, what is the trick to not have stage or camera fears?
Well, there is no definite formula but we can guide you on how to overcome stage fright and camera fears.
Fight or flight
You may be wondering why Darwin’s theory of “Fight or Flight” is applying in a situation of stage fright and camera fear, well it is a primitive response to stress. In the early days, this flight or fight was the determinator of life and death, literally. It was meant to protect us from wild animals or other threatening situations, basically survival of the fittest. But the good news is that there are no wild animals nor life-threatening situations while performing on a stage or recording in front of a camera, but because of the pressure and the nervousness our body acts as if there is danger. So, the solution is to just get on with it, assure yourself that it is totally normal to feel nervous, and just carry on. Start by saying something or anything but don’t freeze and even if you do freeze, it is normal and it is not the end of the world.
Forget the stakes
Giving a standing ovation-worthy speech to a sibling is easy or recording a video alone in your room is easy, why? Because there is nothing at stake. You can always say sorry to your sibling if you say something awful (been there, done that) and you can re-record a video if you don’t like the outcome. So, the trick is to forget the stakes, stop the overthinking voice inside your head saying all the what-ifs. Of course, there is no redo but the important thing to remember is that the audience doesn’t matter. Whether it is a crowd of 50 or more or a single camera or more in front of you, in the end, they are all the same. Many people let the audience they are addressing affect their mindset. Don’t. You just do you.
Practice, Practice, Practice
We have heard of the phrase, “practice makes a man perfect” so many times and that is because it is completely true. With the right amount of patience and determination, there is nothing that cannot be overcome with practice. The deadliest mistake a person can make involves not feeling the weight of performance before they have to deliver it for real. The advice here to familiarize your body and mind with the surroundings and adapt to the different reality of a live or in-person performance. If you have a script make sure you retain your lines, a half-volume recital into your bedroom mirror doesn’t count. Replicate the assigned space as nearly as possible, and get used to the timings and other cues. This applies whether it is in front of a camera or to an audience.
FILM MULTIPLE TAKES
If you are a video content creator or just a videographer this rule should be the commandments by which you live. FILM MULTIPLE TAKES! can’t stress this enough. This makes the editing process a lot easier and even the simplest of videos can benefit from multiple takes. Also, while shooting we can’t always trust the lightings and the audio with a single shot, it is only after multiple takes that we understand what works best for the video.
Filming multiple takes means there’s less pressure on any single shot to be absolutely perfect. If you develop this habit in your filming or video shooting plan, it will help you relax knowing you have a backup if a particular shoot does not work.
WEAR A FAVORITE OUTFIT
There is always a piece of clothing in your wardrobe that makes us feel pretty and confident. If we look good, we feel good and confidence is just a bonus point. So, make sure to wear one of those outfits if you are feeling nervous about performing in front of an audience or a camera. But make sure that the outfit you choose is suitable for the occasion, you can’t wear a cocktail dress or a tuxedo to a video shoot in a sports event or wear an oversized hoodie to an opera. Whatever you wear make sure the clothes are clean, and wrinkle-free. Avoid stripes, small patterns, or shiny accessories, as they can cause visual issues on camera.
Trick your brain with breathing
The most nerve-wracking part of a performance or a video shoot is those 5–10 gut-wrenching minutes leading up to it. This is the moment of freaking out and thinking of the worst possible way for things to go south. So, in moments like this, the best way to calm yourself is to trick your brain into relaxing. Fake it till you make it. Take your mind off the task at hand and redirect your focus on doing things like stretching the body, like arms, legs, and necks. Remember to take deep breaths as you stretch. A deep breath can go a long way, so control your thoughts and channel them to your breathing. A lot of professional performers also do this technique and study finds slow breathing helps in anxiety. Now you just have to face the camera and crush it.
FOCUS YOUR GAZE
Every person who has ever faced a camera before has this one big question and that is where to look when they’re on camera. Keeping a steady gaze will allow you to project confidence on camera, whether you’re feeling it or not. Remember not to look directly into the camera unless it is scripted and understand the audience.
With all that said there is no one all-encompassing solution for stage fright or camera fear. Everyone has different needs and approaches to dealing with stage fright and camera fear. Keep an open mind to what works and does not work for your particular needs. Lastly, while focusing on all he do’s and don’t remember that you are in front of a camera or an audience because you love doing that, don’t let anything get in the way of you having fun and enjoying. Break a leg.